Mike Huckabee stands alone in addressing US health crisis

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee stands alone in the presidential campaign in addressing, as he did in the last GOP presidential debate, the health crisis in our country.

Huckabee stated that if sufficient research dollars were directed to medical cures for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, the positive impact on the economy and lives would be phenomenal. His statement, combined with his personal experience in controlling Type II diabetes, are important messages for voters.

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Under a Huckabee administration, real health education and real research dollars could produce real results in the lives of tens of millions of Americans. This is a message of hope from the man from Hope, Ark.

America needs an inspirational leader on health to lead people away from unhealthy diets, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and prescription drug abuse. Huckabee is uniquely qualified to lead this fight given his history with diabetes.

November, which is National Diabetes Month, draws attention to the disease and its effects on millions of Americans. Legends like Mary Tyler Moore, Larry King and Tom Hanks have the disease. Legends who suffered from the disease, and its complications, include B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald and Lou Reed.

This year's theme for National Diabetes Month is "Diabetes Education and Support: Everyone Has a Role. What's Yours?" Huckabee, a former obese diabetic, knows his role is to help others benefit from healthier diets, exercise and medication management.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 30 million Americans, roughly 10 percent of the population, have diabetes. Alarmingly, 2 million new cases are diagnosed annually. The disease predominantly affects people in their working years. Medication for diabetes is becoming increasingly sophisticated in combating the disease and reducing the serious health consequences our family members experienced just decades ago. Access to lifesaving medicine and diabetic education is critical for those with the disease, as is close communication with medical professionals and caregivers. Coordination of healthcare among medical providers is critical for proper diabetic management.

The CDC estimates the total cost of diabetes to the U.S. economy at an astounding $250 billion. In comparison, the economic cost of cancer is about $90 billion.

Huckabee, alone among presidential candidates in both political parties, is aware of the economic costs of the diabetes and the three other diseases he mentioned in the GOP presidential debate in Boulder, Colo., last week. His fellow candidates would be wise to follow his leadership on addressing the health crisis in our country.

The campaign to educate America on the great economic and personal opportunities possible by reducing or overcoming the devastation of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes should be a national one. Mike Huckabee is a winner in his battle against diabetes; he can wage a winning national campaign on these critical health issues for all Americans.

Patterson is a longtime Washington diplomat and a Bay Area, Calif. contributor.